Back home in New England the closest California Pizza Kitchen we had was in Boston and that wasn't very close at all when you're just looking to score a pie for dinner. But I did take a couple trips there and it was always mobbed with people. But hot damn, were their pizzas good! So when we heard ol' CPK was coming out with some new frozen pizza offerings, we decided it would be a good time for the FGFB crew to take a look at them.
It made complete sense that if we were going to get in depth with the full CPK experience, we should actually visit one of their locations in preparation, right? HELL YEAH.
|Sweet mother of mercy. Look at this thing!|
So we hit up the local CPK and I ordered their Jamaican Jerk chicken pizza. It was absolutely off the charts awesome. Seriously. Just look at the picture. Take a moment and really let it sink in. The sauce on it is so sweet but has a wild spicy kick. The bacon was perfect and there was a ton of it. The chicken and veggies were all fresh and together created a flavor that nearly blasted my brain right out of my skull. All on one of their thin crusts so you don't have to feel like as much of a slob when you eat the entire damn thing.
All in all, it's a top ten pizza in my brain. So once I stumbled out of there, drunk on pizza pie, I knew I was ready to take on these three new frozen CPK originals, because now I had the true CPK experience fresh in my mind!
From the looks of it there were three new flavors, plus a bunch of gluten free options. Well...after a quick poll from our readers, they told us they didn't really care about the gluten free ones, so sorry to all of you that can't do the gluten, our readers apparently hate you. Bunch of jerks. So we're trying the three new flavors, first up...THE WORKS!
According to this bad boy, it has hand tossed crust, pepperoni, italian pork sausage, green bell peppers, caramelized onions, mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella, Parmesan, asiago AND Romano cheeses, and herbed tomato sauce. That sounds like quite the medley! But, I'm going to be honest here, I took the mushrooms off. Why? Because unless they are the magic kinds, I want nothing to do with those gross, slimy things! Also, if we're being honest, I added cheese to each of these, but I won't be deducting points for that because I have literally never eaten a frozen pizza that didn't need a little extra cheese. If you think you have, you're probably a liar, or you're not a big cheese fan. Either one it is, I'm shaking my head at you.
Once I pulled this from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes, I dove in. This pizza is delicious! I rarely ever get the works pizza from anywhere, because I'm a man who either goes traditional, or more often CRAZY with his pizza choices. But every part of this pie was great. Each ingredient burst with flavor. From the spiciness of the pepperoni and sausage, to the fresh tasting green peppers, I found myself nodding at the pie with each bite I took. The sauce stuck out too. It has a great tang to it and wasn't overpowering at all. The caramelized onions were a nice burst of sweetness.
If I had to find one negative thing about it I'd say that the very bottom of the crust ended up VERY crispy when cooked directly on the oven rack. The actual edge crust was awesome, it was just the bottom that would have touched the rack. That's just nit-picking though! This was a great pie. Very fresh tasting and you could tell with every bite that the all the ingredients were definitely a step up from the cheaper frozen pizzas. I give the California Pizza Kitchen hand Tossed THE WORKS Pizza a solid B!
Next up, quite possibly my favorite kind of pizza in existence, BBQ CHICKEN! CPK has always had a version of the bbq chicken pizza, but this was a new recipe so I was excited to try it. It's on the same Hand Tossed Crust as the Works pizza, but that is where the similarities end. The BBQ Chicken pizza has applewood smoked bacon, bbq seasoned white meat chicken, red onions, cilantro, smoked Gouda and mozzarella cheeses and a tangy bbq sauce!
So after adding a few pinches of cheese, I popped this one in the oven and anxiously awaited it to be finished. Just so you all know, I ate these over the course of like a week and a half. Just so you know I'm not sitting there all in one day eating three frozen pizzas myself. Although...that does sound like an awesome day. I'll tell you one thing, this pizza smelled amazing while in the oven!
Much like with the last pizza, I was very surprised at how good the toppings were. The cheeses were a great combo, with a slight smokiness to them. The chunks of chicken were big and didn't taste like weird lab-made meat blobs like on some other frozen pizzas. The bacon chunks were tasty as hell and the onions added a nice crunch. The sweetness of the bbq sauce went really well against the onions and bacon together. All in all a great bbq chicken pizza!
Now this one was the wild card. California Kale with Sausage. Hmmm. I know Kale is all the rage lately as a superfood that everyone wants to put into everything. But a pizza? My main experiences with kale have been when Josh gets on his kick making healthy smoothies after listening to Joe Rogans podcasts and begs me to try them. It usually tastes okay but the worst part of it is the kale. I usually tell him, "man, it would be pretty solid without that gross kale taste." So this pizza is going up against that bias to start with. BUT STAY WITH ME.
This one boasts California Kale, Italian sausage, vine-ripened tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, asiago and romano cheeses, with a zesty marinara sauce on a thin crust. FOUR CHEESES?! Yeah you read that right. The rest of this is stuff I NEVER get on pizza. Sausage? Once in a great while. Tomatoes? Never. KALE? Never in a million years. But I added some cheese and tossed it in the oven, because, bro, I'm not backing down from this challenge now! But I have to say, for a pizza that boasts having FOUR KINDS OF CHEESE, there wasn't that much cheese on this thing! But that's a problem easily solved in my house, my friends!
I was so unsure about this pizza that I even had a backup plan for dinner in case it was so gross that I couldn't eat it. But I'm happy to say that wasn't the case. The sausage seemed to be the same one from the Works pizza, very flavorful and not fatty at all. The tomatoes burst with tart flavor that seemed to enhance the already zesty sauce. The kale? It really didn't do too much. When you got a bite that had a lot of kale you got a tinge of that flavor, but otherwise it didn't overpower the flavor at all. It kind of reminded me of the few times I've had baby spinach on a pizza. But with slight strange aftertaste. How about the crust? GREAT. Their thin crust is very well done. Just the right amount of crispy to chewy consistency and very flavorful.
Now even though the CPK California Kale with sausage isn't a pizza I would normally get, I have to say, I kind of enjoyed it and I'm giving it a B! The kale took a little away and while I always say that frozen pizzas need extra cheese, this one had an exceptionally small amount. But if you're like me and you add it anyway, not a big deal. Other than the the ingredients were fresh and delicious and the thin crust was better to me than the hand tossed, all the way. This is a limited edition pie so if you're a kale lover and this review has you interested, you better act fast!
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